It matters that people have a way to use the latest findings in psychology beyond buying a pill for depression. It matters that people have a way of looking at their lives that lets them ask the big questions and determine how they want to live – and that this is supported by therapists and mental health professionals.

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Posts tagged with the category Benjamin Wachs

The New York Times’ special report on “The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder”  is one more reminder, in a long trail of breadcrumbs, that we become the stories we tell about ourselves. Things that once seemed inevitable—hardwired in, biologically determined—were, in many cases, inventions to suit our life...
H. L. Mencken.
Florence King once defined “misanthropes” as “people who can’t suffer fools, and like to see fools suffer.” It’s hard for me to think of a healthier motto, and I’d like to suggest by way of this essay that King’s 1993 history of misanthropy, “With Charity Toward None,” should be on...
Just from the name, I would have assumed that the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry was a journal dedicated to the undoubtedly severe mental health issues of lawyers. Apparently, I’m wrong. Indeed, a recent study published in that journal showed that countries with better mental-health systems—as measured by the number of...
A new study out of Yale demonstrates that people frequently twist basic mathematically data to fit their pre-conceptions about issues they have strong feelings about (like gun control) … and that the more competent in mathematics the person is, the more likely they are to misunderstand the data in a way that fits their prejudice....
Did you have an imaginary friend when you were a kid?   Do you have one now? A recent article in Aeon magazine reviews some fascinating research on imaginary friends.  It’s qualitative, of course – imaginary friends being notoriously difficult to quantify – but all the more interesting for it.   Some results...
Friedrich Nietzsche
If the future of Existential Psychology could be reduced to a bumper sticker, it might be this one: “Nietzsche Was Right.” In 1882, Nietzsche put some stunning words in the mouth of a character: God is dead, we have killed him, and the implications are staggering. Let me quote from the passage: “Is not the magnitude of this...
For years we in the Existential Psychology have been shouting at the top of our lungs that the DSM is a fatally flawed approach to mental health.  We’ve pointed out that there are no empirical bases for its categories, that its treatment approaches are often arbitrary, and that the entire exercise takes time, energy, and money,...
Ludwig Devrient as King Lear, circa 1769.
The answer seems obvious to most of us—but some neuroscientists tell us that we’re just not reading them right: the brain is sweeter and more temperate. Richard Friedman, a clinical psychiatrist, wrote a recent op-ed piece in the New York Times that is the latest iteration of this case. The brain’s reward circuitry, he writes,...
Computers have never passed the Turing Test, but plucky start-ups say software is ready to replace therapists anyway. That’s according to a recent article in The Atlantic highlighting “The Digital Future of Mental Health” -  which doesn’t sound like an overhyped tech-trends piece by a documentarian pushing a movie at...
William Ellis' 1825 sketch of missionaries preaching.
Where does identity come from? Are you a product of your culture, or are you an independent moral agent? There is a constant tension in the world between the concept of “culture” and the concept of “universal human rights.” How can both be respected when they conflict? The authors of a forthcoming paper in the journal Neuroquantology argue that...
This isn't us.  Really.
A conversation with a fellow writer turned into miniature a culture war last month when I mentioned that I didn’t believe that the human mind can be reduced to purely biochemical processes – that we are in fact more than a highly complicated biological machine. “Really?” my friend said.  He was baffled.  “I...
Are we addicted to evil? That’s the provocative question asked by Stephen Metcalf in an article for Slate.com. By piecing together the etymology of the work “amok” (as in, “he ran amok”), examining the scripted quality of media coverage of spree violence like the shootings in Aurora, and looking at the difference...